Award-winning Chickasaw bladesmith shows new work at Artesian Online Art Market
Daniel Worcester displays five new blades at ArtesianArtsFestival.com
June 17, 2020
LONE GROVE – Five forged blades by renowned Chickasaw artist Daniel Worcester – art he considers some of his most innovative to date – are on display at the Artesian Online Art Market.
"These are difficult times. To me, when times are tough, it brings out more artistic expression. In bad times, you could easily forget your art, or you can focus on your art and bring out more of what is inside you as an artist," he said.
"That is what has happened to me. Some of the work on the Artesian Online Art Market is a departure from normal while still retaining my artistic vision. It has brought out more of what is inside me. I think the items have new approaches to my art that might not have come out normally."
Two of the items, sport blades more than 8 inches long, are unusual for Worcester, who has been honored throughout his career, be it from the Oklahoma Arts Council to being named "Honored One" at the Oklahoma Red Earth Arts Festival.
Gilcrease Museum, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma; The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; and Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, located in Indiana, all have Worcester-inspired creations in their permanent collections.
Blades by Worcester can come in many sizes, but for the most part he works on smaller, detail-rich offerings.
Five pieces of art are displayed and available for purchase at the Artesian Online Art Market at ArtesianArtsFestival.com.
"Red Dawn" stretches the dimensions of Worcester's imagination and was crafted for the Artesian Arts Festival.
Made from a 110-year-old round plow disc, "Red Dawn" has red dominoes decorating the handle with a rising sun design forged into the 7.5 inch knife. To add a sparkling luster, Worcester added a sterling silver bolster.
"I think 'Master Jack' may be the longest knife I've ever forged. It is available online. It is more of a meat cleaver or perhaps a machete. It's an impressive length and has some heft to it," Worcester explained. "I think it would be classified as a 'chopper,' Worcester said with a laugh. A purple billiard ball was incorporated into the handle for stunning decorative beauty.
The Chickasaw master bladesmith also is experimenting with man-made material in decorative handles, which is another departure for the Lone Grove artist.
"Golden Child" is completely made from brass. It is approximately 9 inches long and the new man-made material being used on the handle has a yellowish tint to complement the brass knife. Red "veins" run through the new material giving it a unique look for collectors and art lovers. "It is the first time I've used entirely one kind of metal in my art," Worcester said. "I believe in making the best of whatever the world hands you. I think this piece of art was born out of experimenting and envisioning new art in difficult times."
"The Patriot" is another example of Worcester expanding his artistic vision. At 8 inches long, the blade and tang are hand-forged from a railroad spike. It is accented with a sterling silver bolster and a multicolored handle that makes it stand out as one of the works he is most proud to make available to art lovers and collectors.
The handle is red, white and blue. Worcester – who searches for scrap metal to create his art – also used an old silver tea pot to finish "The Patriot."
"Nothing goes to waste," he said and laughed. He and his son, J. Daniel Worcester, use his forge to create works of art. J. Daniel has several pieces displayed online as well. "He (J. Daniel) has finished a tomahawk that he did a great job on. I was impressed," his father said.
The final piece offered by Worcester is called "A New Hand." It was forged from the springboard of an old buggy, with a brass bolster and multicolored, but predominately blue handle. Overall, it is nine-and-a-half inches long. "It is difficult to describe, but I believe it is one of the finer offerings to a collector or anyone who appreciates art. The handle is 'saw-toothed' and gives the piece an unusual symmetry I believe is quite appealing," he said.
2020 would have marked 25 years of participation in the Southwest Indian Art Market for Worcester. The Santa Fe, New Mexico, festival is considered the finest American Indian art show in the world. However, it too, has been canceled due to the pandemic, but artists will show their works online.
A couple issues are on his mind as the country slowly begins to reopen. One is "Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art," and the other is meeting the needs of collectors nationally and abroad who wish to acquire Worcester art when art shows are closed.
"Visual Voices" was scheduled to open at the University of North Carolina a few months ago. Its opening is officially "postponed," but Worcester believes the work of Chickasaw artists probably will open again in San Antonio, Texas, this summer. "I'm not sure it will be completely safe to open the collection in North Carolina. There may be a brief showing there, but none of the artists will be attending. I miss, and I am sure everyone misses, not being able to visit with people who attend our show. Those connections are reached through personal contact, which is limited now.
"It's a different world. I have had a lot of collectors calling me because they cannot attend a show. I have sent them images of my work. I suppose we will see how all this works when we come out the other side," Worcester said of rules to avoid the virus.
"I have collectors who wish to remain anonymous, both nationwide and overseas. I have received commissions, but patrons usually give me free reign to do a piece. I never take on any piece that is topical," he added.
Worcester remains committed to his craft.
"I have not allowed this to affect my life. I am pretty much isolated in my shop by myself anyway. I am used to being by myself. Other than what I hear on the news, it hasn't affected me," Worcester said.